Ottawa County, Michigan, has grown much more diverse in recent years, with its population of non-English speakers doubling since 2000.  Today, nearly 20 percent of Ottawa County’s residents speak a language other than English at home. 


"Ottawa County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state," says Larry Jackson, a spokesman for the 86th Michigan House District. "It's growing much more diverse."


This growth brings a challenge: ensuring that everyone, regardless of their native language, has equal access to justice.


LanguageLine is proud to deliver a vital service to Ottawa County courts, offering 24-hour access to professional interpretation in more than 240 languages. This service bridges communication gaps between court personnel and defendants who don't speak English.  


Judge Craig Bunce of Ottawa County's 58th District Court says LanguageLine has become invaluable to court proceedings.


"We haven't had a case yet that (LanguageLine) couldn’t find someone who speaks the language," he said.


Bunce added that it is often a conflict of interest for a child, family member, or friend to interpret in court. 


A recent case in Judge Bunce's courtroom exemplified the need for interpretation services. 


A man and his young daughter, both Punjabi speakers, appeared before the judge. The daughter, who also spoke English, attempted to interpret for her father with little success. Recognizing the language barrier, Judge Bunce's clerk immediately dialed LanguageLine and requested a Punjabi interpreter. The interpreter joined the proceedings within seconds. 


Interpretation Services to Help Courts


LanguageLine can play a crucial role in ensuring fair and accessible court proceedings for individuals who don't speak English fluently. Here's how:

  • Providing LanguageLine CertifiedSM Court Interpreters: LanguageLine has a team of interpreters familiar with legal terminology to accurately interpret spoken language during hearings, trials, and depositions.
  • Offering interpretation in over 240 languages: Our vast pool of interpreters ensures courts can accommodate a wide range of languages spoken by defendants, witnesses, and jurors who require interpretation.
  • Remote and On-Site interpretation services: LanguageLine can connect interpreters remotely via phone or video conferencing. We can also provide On-Site interpreters who appear in person in the courtroom. This flexibility ensures courts can choose the most appropriate method for each situation, considering factors like case complexity and security protocols.
  • Cultural Competence: LanguageLine's interpreters are not only linguistic experts but also culturally competent, enabling them to navigate cultural nuances that might impact understanding or the context of the legal matters at hand. This cultural awareness can be critical in ensuring that communication is not only accurate but also appropriately conveyed and understood by all parties.
  • Document Translation Services: Beyond verbal interpretation, LanguageLine can translate legal documents, evidence materials, and written communications into the necessary languages. This ensures that all parties fully understand the documents relevant to the case, maintaining transparency and fairness.
  • Ensuring confidentiality and adherence to legal protocols: LanguageLine interpreters adhere to a strict code of ethics regarding confidentiality and impartiality, upholding the integrity of the legal process.

By providing these services, LanguageLine helps to guarantee equal access to justice; reduce misunderstandings and errors; and promote fairness and inclusivity. We are proud to play a role in ensuring a just and inclusive legal system in Ottawa County. 

Are you facing similar challenges in ensuring clear communication across languages?  LanguageLine can help. Contact us today for a free consultation or quote.

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